Revision resources: A how-to guide

In the last weeks before Christmas (28th November – 16th December) and the week before exams (9th – 13th January), the Library Student Team will be handing out revision survival packs at the Learning Commons and Main Library, so look out for us there! We’ve thrown in some resources that will make your revision a little bit easier and below we’ve explained why and how you should use them. If you haven’t got your hands on a revision pack or want to print out more of something, then we’ve also attached all the originals, so you can download and use them to your heart’s content!

 Reflect on Your Performance

Click here to download the Reflect on your Performance handout


Why is it useful?

We have to do exams every year and while it’s tempting to forget about the last set of exams as soon as you get your results, it can be really useful to think about what went well and what went less well, so that you can improve your revision strategy for the next exam period.

How do I use it?

Spend 15 minutes thinking about last year’s exams. What did you find challenging? Perhaps it was structuring essay questions in an exam, in which case it would be helpful to use our resources about structuring essays or practise past exam papers. You could also reflect on things that might be especially difficult this time around: perhaps you’ve got two exams scheduled on the same day or you’re working part-time, which will limit the time you’ve got to prepare.

Once you’ve had a think about what you’re good at and what challenges you’re going to face, you’ll be better equipped to use our revision resources because you’ll have an idea of what you need.


Revision Focus

Click here to download the Revision Focus handout

revision-focusWhy is it useful?

Not all modules are created equal! Inevitably, you’ll feel more confident about some modules than others (perhaps because you find them easier or because they’re just more interesting!). Similarly, different modules are worth different numbers of credits, and exams carry different percentages of the final grade. It’s worth taking all these things into consideration when planning your revision. You don’t necessarily need to allocate exactly the same amount of time to each module.

How do I use it?

Write your modules in the first column, and tick off everything you have already done or already feel confident about. This will give you an idea of which modules need most work. You can keep updating the sheet throughout your revision and adjust your revision plan accordingly (for example, you might find one subject much quicker to revise than you expected, so you can adjust your plan to give yourself more time for other topics).


Cornell Notes

Click here to download the Cornell Notes handout

cornell-notesWhy is it useful?

This resource is great if you have a tendency to write too much when you’re taking notes. By dividing the page into three parts, it forces you to think about what is actually important. The summary section at the bottom of the page is a great way to check that you’re actually learning the information, not just copying.

How do I use it?

 Have this resource at hand whilst revisiting a lecture or reading an article. Write the key points in the key points section; there isn’t much space, so decide what is most important, for example names of theories, dates or key authors. In the details section you can expand on the key points (make sure you’re not just copying information down though!). Finally, try covering up the top of the page and writing a summary in the summary section; this forces you to put the information in your own words, so you can check you actually understand it. Explaining a topic out loud to someone else has the same effect.



Click here to download the KWL handout

kwlWhy is it useful?

KWL is a fantastic resource to aid you to be efficient and find and learn information that you need. It’s great if you’re revising for a specific topic or preparing to answer a practise paper question. This method allows you to target the information that you need to know so you don’t waste time on things that aren’t helpful.

How do I use it?

In the KNOW column, write the knowledge that you already have on whatever topic you’re revising; you already know this stuff, so there’s no point wasting your time reading or revising it. In the WANT TO KNOW section, write questions you need to be able to answer to understand the topic properly. This gets you to think actively before getting started. Once you’ve know what information you need to target, you can start reading or revising. If questions occur to you later, you can always add them to this column. Finally, when you’ve finished your research, use the LEARNED column to summarise what you’ve just learned. Putting it in your own words will help you actually learn and remember the information; if you find you’re not sure how to explain something, then you know you need to revisit it before you move on.


Questioning Matrix

Click here to download the Questioning Matrix handout

questioning-matrixWhy is it useful?

This resource helps to break down the key elements of an assignment, essay question, or exam question. It’s great for people who struggle to structure an answer to an exam question. You can use it to plan answers to past papers or when you’re in an exam, it will help you think about what you need to include in your answer.

How do I use it?

Write the question being addressed in the top box. In the required boxes, enter the elements of the question that need addressing. In the component  boxes at the top of the columns, enter three features of the question that support the information in the required boxes. A good example is given here. You can then think about what information should go in what box; grouping information together will help you structure your paragraphs.


Structure Outline for Essays

Click here to download the Essay Structure handout

essay-structureWhy is it useful?

Simply put, it is a resource that helps you structure essays. It breaks down the different sections of a typical essay and reminds you which elements need including in each section. It’s especially useful if you struggle to structure your answers to essay questions.

How do I use it?

The document is split into three sections: the introduction, the body of the essay and the conclusion. Start at the top of the document and work your way down. You can use the handout like a checklist, to make sure you’ve included everything in the right order. Why not use it when you do practice questions from past papers? It will help you get into the habit of structuring your answers in an easy-to-remember way, so when you’re under pressure in the exam, you won’t waste time trying to remember what should be included in an introduction.


Revision Strategies

Click here to download the Revision Strategies handout

revision-strategiesWhy is it useful?

There are lots of reasons for using different revision techniques: changing the way you study can help you concentrate more and stay motivated, and some techniques work better with different types of information than others. Besides, everyone learns differently, so it’s worth trying a few things out to see what’s best for you.

How do I use it?

Have a look through the learning strategy cards; you probably already use some of the techniques, others you might have tried and hated. Have a go at new things and if it doesn’t work for you, put it aside and try something different. Don’t forget that some techniques will be useful at different times in your revision: there’s no point starting off by testing yourself or answering past papers if you haven’t learned anything yet!


Pocket Mod

Click here to download a PocketMod template

20161124_122435Why is it useful?

Pocket mods are great if you’re travelling or want a concise set of notes for quick reference or as a prompt. Because they’re small you’ve only got space to write the most important points, so you won’t waste time writing out unimportant details.

How do I use it?

They’re not necessarily the easiest things to make so have a look at this youtube video for instructions on how to make them. Once you’ve got your booklet, use it however you want! You could write dates or names if you’re a historian, cell diagrams if you’re a biologist, verb endings if you study languages or equations if you’re a mathematician. Whatever works for you!


We hope you found this article useful and don’t forget to tweet us if you have any questions. Good luck!

By Matt from the Student Team



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